A Fresh Translation of the Nicene Creed

The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,

the only-begotten son of God:
the one begotten from the Father before all the ages,
light of light, true God of true God,
begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father,
through whom all things came into being,
who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven
and became flesh by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,
and became man and was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried,
and on the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures
and ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father;
and he shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead,
whose kingdom shall have no end.

And in the Holy Spirit,

the Lord and life-giver,
the one who proceeds from the Father,
who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified,
who spoke through the prophets.

In one holy, catholic, and apostolic church:

we confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins;
we expect the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the age to come. Amen.

Some notes:

In the fall of 2017 I decided to make my own translation of the Creed for potential use in worship at Kenwood Baptist Church at Victory Memorial. We discussed it as elders and agreed that for 2018 we would recite the Nicene Creed at the end of the worship service where we had been doing the Apostles’ Creed.

Being more familiar with the phrases of the Greek New Testament than with the Greek text of this Creed, what struck me most was how so many of these Greek phrases match up almost exactly with the wording of the Greek New Testament. We tried to preserve and communicate this in our translation.

I made the initial translation from the text in Schaff’s Creeds of Christendom, which does not include the filioque (“and the son” after “the one who proceeds from the Father” in the statement on the Holy Spirit). I then sent the translation to my fellow elder Denny Burk, who worked over it, caught some errors I had made, and we had a healthy discussion about whether to use “seen and unseen” or “visible and invisible.” You can see from the translation where we came down.

Denny then had the idea to send the translation to Scott Swain, Fred Sanders, and Michael Haykin to get their input. We wanted to make sure we weren’t missing something, and we wanted their opinion on the filioque clause.

At the end of the day, we decided not to include the filioque in our translation. We did not leave it out because we do not believe it. We think the idea is taught in John 14–16. We left it out for reasons like these: first and foremost, it wasn’t in the original text we were translating. Second, whereas the Creed was universally accepted, there wasn’t universal agreement on the inclusion of that clause, and we see leaving it out as a way to avoid unnecessary disagreement.

Matt Damico and I then went over the translation and eliminated many unnecessary commas.

We want to confess the faith that has been handed down to us in unity with believers across space and through time. We want to do this week after week until these words become part of the fabric of who we are. The repetition of the creed weekly in worship will, hopefully, result in many of us memorizing it, so that its phrases flow from our lips and its vocabulary structures our thinking.

May the Lord build up and bless his people on the knowledge of him.

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